Can you hunt midday for predators?

February 18, 2014

I've always been a proponent of morning and evening calling. For one, most research indicates game species move more at these times of days. Your observations likely match mine. Yep, game does move more at dawn and dusk. I also lead a busy lifestyle like many of you. If I'm not on the road traveling for work I try to jump back into the parenting role whenever possible including volunteering, or driving kids to different activities. An early-morning setup gives me the opportunity to hunt and then use the rest of the day for family business.

Interestingly, I have been having recent success around midday and it got me thinking (something that is hard to do). Why were these coyotes more responsive at midday over the morning period? Since I also write about big-game hunting I've researched many studies on winter big-game habits and a character of wintertime whitetails may be the answer to my question — in a roundabout way.

As winter's intensity increases a deer's metabolism decreases. This acts as survival support allowing a deer to live on less food. This, combined with an increase in bedding or inactivity, allows deer to battle winter when conditions prohibit travel and nutrition becomes harder to find.

Now I'm not suggesting coyotes have a similar survival mode like whitetails, but they may be battling the elements via inactivity until the day becomes more hospitable. Desert dwellers and a few of you in the extreme southern latitude of the nation may be escaping the 2014 winter wrath, but it's an old-fashion winter for the rest of us. Deep snow, ice and subzero temps have been the norm this winter, creating stress for wildlife. I know in my own backyard the deer have been using a faux hibernation to conserve calories.

On my last coyote hunt my son and I had to scoop snow before leaving. Temperatures hovered at 0, but we set off to our location in hopes of hitting our first setup at sunrise. As we neared the area I noticed nobody else had driven through the fresh snow on the road, but animals weren't moving either. There wasn't a fresh deer, rabbit or coyote track crossing the road. I had a bad feeling.

Our first setup was a no show as was the second. We did another move and by the time we reached our third site it was nearly noon, and the sun was finally shining, providing warmth to south-facing microenvironments. Fifteen minutes into the setup a coyote blazed out of nowhere. There was no reason to send out the dog and I only had seconds to swing my M&P15 (www.smith-wesson.com) into place, but the Hornady 53-grain V-Max (www.hornady.com) ended the meeting before it was face to face. I looked at my watch and it was high noon.

Then I thought back. The last coyote I shot was in similar weather and I tipped it over at high noon as well. Were the coyotes simply staying curled up and ignoring my calls until the weather cooperated? Both outings were snowy and cold until midday when more comfortable temperatures settled in. Or was it just coincidence.

As we drove home I also noticed something along the road. In between our first setup at sunrise and our early afternoon drive home the road was littered with tracks of both prey and predator. You be the judge, but in my mind I think those coyotes were simply sleeping in until Mother Earth provided some midday warmth. Have you had a similar experience? Leave a comment and let's compare notes.